Four diaspora youth to experience Jamaican work culture
Birthright Programme recipients with Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook (centre), GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby (second right) and Chairman of the GraceKennedy board Professor Gordon Shirley (right)
GraceKennedy Limited kicked off this summer’s Birthright Programme on Monday with an introductory function of the four recipients at its Harbour Street Office.
The Birthright Programme aims to reintroduce second and third generation Jamaicans in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom to their Jamaican heritage for one month.
It also offers them the opportunity to earn while being in the island, as they will be interned at various companies in the island. This will be in line with their respective field of studies, as the Birthright Programme draws from individuals pursuing university education.
This year’s recipients are Menelik Graham and Matthew Robinson both from the USA, Tianna Thomas from Canada and Cleveland Douglas from the UK. They were selected after being interviewed by a panel in each of the three countries.
Graham just completed his first year at Princeton University in the US, studying economics with a minor in entrepreneurship, while Robinson is an undergraduate at Georgetown University pursuing international law with a minor in Arab studies and Arabic.
Thomas is a business administration major at Brock University in Canada while Douglas is studying chemical engineering at Imperial College in the UK.
Graham and Thomas were born in Jamaica but emigrated as three and four-year old respectively.
All four said they visited the island fairly regular with family, but expressed the view that this will be different, as now they will be able to enjoy the offerings of Jamaica, as the Birthright Programme will have them visiting a number of the island’s attractions.
GraceKennedy’s CEO Don Wehby belivevs that both Jamaica and the recipients will benefit from this partnership.
He said, “We have the pleasure of learning from these bright, talented young people, who have their own perspective on Jamaica and the world.”
“I hope this will be a positive life-changing experience for you. You have it within you to change the world and help uplift Jamaica. So please make the most of the experience,” he said while addressing the recipients.
Paul Pennicook, director of tourism, a sponsor of the programme lauded GraceKennedy for the iniative.
He told the recipients, “the consequential benefits for this programme are vast, as through internship, mentorship and skilfully planned experiences, you will be able to feel the dynamism of our Jamaican culture.”
Acting public affairs officer at the US Embassy, told the recipients that while being in Jamaica, they are an ambassador for their respective country of residence and must act with that responsibility.
Meanwhile, David Fitton British High Commissioner to Jamaica, expressed delight with GraceKennedy for the initiative and advised the recipients that they are important to the Jamaican community at home and abroad.